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Stock Upgrades: Procter & Gamble Can Run the Table

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Wall Street ratings agencies set the tone for today's stock market.

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Stocks lost ground again as it became increasingly apparent we are now living in what Winston Churchill once called "the locust years." Shutdowns and cicadas, each arriving at 17-year intervals, have both plagued 2013. All things considered, however, the damage done to Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) Industrials has thus far been relatively minor; perhaps, unlike those pesky insects, Uncle Sam's unerring ability for ineptitude has simply lost its buzz. On an otherwise down day, interestingly enough the owner of The Empire State (NYSE:ESRT) Building advanced 1.06%. Built in barely a year during the depths of the Depression - Ground Zero stood essentially idle for the best part of a decade - this iconic edifice shames the ongoing D.C. inaction and stands as a salient reminder of when we could swiftly get things done.

Among stocks on the move, radio powerhouse Pandora (NYSE:P) plunged 4.40%, this as an erstwhile Top 40 titan deserves far better treatment. Bookseller Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS) nose-dived 5.34% and Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) proved two-faced, falling 1.03% despite being begun with a bullish buy. For those with no time to read an entire novel, preferring instead a brief Passage to India, blue chip International Business Machines (NYSE:IBM) lost 1.14% after incurring a rare rating reduction. For it turns out that the tech titan now apparently employs more people on the Subcontinent than it does here at home.

Economic data remains on hiatus due to the government shutdown, but Alcoa (NYSE:AA), Yum Brands (NYSE:YUM), and Wolverine World Wide (NYSE:WWW) all unofficially usher in third-quarter earnings season when they release results today.

Abiomed (NASDAQ:ABMD): Shares get upgraded to Buy from Speculative Buy at The Benchmark Company, whose price objective is $25.

Avon Products (NYSE:AVP): The cosmetics company is increased to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo.

Cloud Peak Energy (NYSE:CLD): Stifel boosts the stock to Buy from Hold.

Finisar (NASDAQ:FNSR): Shares are hoisted to Hold from Underperform at Jefferies.

Lukoil (OTCMKTS:LUKOY): Deutsche Bank lifts the overseas energy outfit to Buy from Hold.

Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG): The consumer products powerhouse, a key Dow component, gets moved to Outperform from Market Perform with Wells Fargo. Catalysts include the return of A.G. Lafley as its CEO in addition to market share increases. Shares are, accordingly, showing strength ahead of this morning's opening bell.

Tenet Healthcare (NYSE:THC): Citing good gains in outpatient revenue growth, Goldman Sachs gives the stock a Buy-from-Neutral boost.

(See also: Stock Downgrades: Jamba, JC Penney, and Alaska Air and New Stock Coverage: Energizer, Whole Foods, and Walgreen.)
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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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